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Mmmonk School about the Medieval book: Programme and registration

20 October 2022

Mmmonk and Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies (UGent) organise the Mmmonk school in the autumn of 2022. A series of lessons for advanced beginners about the medieval book. We offer an interdisciplinary practice-focused programme about medieval Flemish manuscripts. In 8 lessons, spread over four Fridays experts demonstrate methods and skills specific to their expertise. The lessons are online, free and open for everyone. The lessons use different IIIF applications, implicitly demonstrating the possibilities of IIIF for educational purposes.


25 November 2022: Text

  • Liturgical manuscripts: Identifying various types of liturgical manuscripts (Diane Reilly en Susan Boynton)
  • Medieval reading culture: Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae at the Mmmonk Abbeys (Evelien Hauwaerts)

2 December 2022: Image

  • Art historical analysis: Analyzing and describing a medieval miniature (Anne van Oosterwijk)
  • Heraldry: Identifying and describing a coat of arms (Hanno Wijsman)

9 December 2022: Context

  • Outline of the religious landscape in Medieval Flanders based on the Mmmonk-manuscripts (Steven Vanderputten)
  • Time calculation: Translating medieval time indications to modern notations (Mark Vermeer)

16 December 2022: Access to the book ---- NEW DATE !! ----

(Session initially planned for 18 November but postponed due to medical reasons.)

  • International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF): Advantages for education, research and communication (Sofie Veramme)
  • Book bindings ca. 1000-1600: references for the dating of a book binding (Astrid Beckers)

Target Audience

This course is aimed at everyone who wants to be able to analyse and describe the medieval book as a whole and cross the boundaries of their own expertise, for example conservators, curators, educators, researchers, students, heritage enthusiasts, …

(For example: the art historian who wants access to the text in order to better understand the miniatures, the text expert who wants to be able to analyse miniatures for a deeper understanding of the book as a whole, the historian who wants to understand the structure of the book to be able to place it in time and space, the conservator who wants to gain insight in the content of the book in order to make a substantiated decision about the treatment, the educator who wants to learn how to make guided viewings, …)

Why does Mmmonk organise this online course?

Each component of a manuscript is important: the binding, the text, the language, the illumination, the script, the materials, the traces of use, … To be able to appreciate a manuscript as a whole, it is necessary to study each component individually and in relation to one another. But this is a tall order, even for the most hardened medievalist. Thankfully a lot can be achieved by interdisciplinary cooperation. To encourage an interdisciplinary approach, Mmmonk School gathers specialists from various fields to offer a peek under the hood of their respective disciplines. The aim is not to create new specialists, but to offer insight in the basic methodology and reference points of various disciplines, to remove any fear of the unknown and to stimulate further cooperation and exploration.

Content and speakers

25/11/22 – 4pm CET:Liturgical manuscripts: Identifying various types of liturgical manuscripts”

Diane Reilly (Art History provost-professor – Indiana University Bloomington) and Susan Boynton (Music history professor – Colombia University in New York)

Few books had a more direct link to the community in which they where created and used than lithurgic manucripts. They are studied because of the local production process, the music, the traces of use, the illumination and social cultural references they hold. But to identify a liturgical manuscript is not an easy task. A literary or scientific work is relatively easy to date and is often still known in a modern version one way or another. A liturgical work however contains profound knowledge of a world that is unknown to us today. Diana Reilly and Susan Boynton studied the liturgical works of the Mmmonk-corpus. They will give us an overview of the most common types and offer us methods to recognise and understand these.

Diane J. Reilly earned her BA from Rutgers University in 1990 and her PhD in Art History from the University of Toronto in 1999, after joining the Indiana University Bloomington faculty as a visiting assistant professor in 1998. A leading specialist in western European medieval manuscripts of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, she focuses on the ways in which books and the art found in them act as agents for change and tools for practice. While her early work explored how the pictorial programs created in monastic institutions connected networks of political leaders and powerful clergy in the eleventh-century county of Flanders, her more recent focus has been on the synthesis of art, text, and liturgy in the monastic choir, particularly as expressed in times of religious ferment such as the hotbed of religious reform that existed in twelfth-century Burgundy. Along the way she has investigated the role of manuscripts in monastic pedagogy and the invention of institutional history, the intersection of art and sound, and the use of ritual to shape collective action.

Susan Boynton has a BA and MA in Medieval Studies from Yale University, a Diplôme d'études médiévales from Louvain-la-Neuve, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from Brandeis University. She has taught the history of music at Columbia University since 2000. Boynton's areas of interest in addition to manuscript studies include medieval monastic liturgy and music, music in the Iberian peninsula, music and childhood, music and the visual arts, medieval drama, and troubadour song. In the field of manuscript studies Boynton focuses on Latin liturgical manuscripts between the eleventh and the sixteenth century, particularly manuscripts of liturgical chant. Through the teaching of manuscripts in the collections of Columbia University along with the digital humanities, Boynton has become a partner of the international project Digital Analysis of Chant Transmission.

25/11/22 – 5pm CET: “Medieval reading culture: Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae at the Mmmonk Abbeys”

– Evelien Hauwaerts (curator of manuscripts Public Library of Bruges)

Boethius’s The consolation of philosophy was immensely popular since its origin around 524 until well into the 17the century. It was commented on and translated by many a king, clergy and academic and was read in every layer of the (literate) public. Using the divers Boethius manuscripts in the Mmmonk-corpus, Evelien Hauwaerts will show us how this text was used in different environments and what the impact of that was on the layout of the book. She will also spill the beans and share with us what typical medieval tools helped the reader (and still help) to navigate the book and facilitate a better understanding of the text (and illumination). Reading between the lines, Evelien will also provide a short summary and give you a taste of what this magnificent text of the Western cannon has to offer.

Dr. Evelien Hauwaerts is curator of the manuscripts at the Public Library of Bruges and Mmmonk project manager. She specialises in Western Medieval manuscripts, specifically monastic manuscripts and manuscripts originating from the Burgundian Netherlands. She focusses on reading culture, languages and reception history. She is an advocate for IIIF and linked open data. She is a councilor on the Europeana Network Association Members Council and is an affiliated researcher at the Ghent University History Department. She obtained a doctorate in Medieval languages and literature (Université de Poitiers), a master in Romance languages (KU Leuven), and two research master degrees in Medieval History (KU Leuven and Université de Poitiers).

2/12/22 – 4pm CET:Art historical analysis: Analyzing and describing a medieval miniature

– Anne van Oosterwijk (Head of collections Museums Bruges)

Even if your interest is primarily focused on the text, the traces of use or the palaeography of a book, you undoubtedly start to smile if you find a miniature or more in the manuscript you are researching. Miniatures have practical and aesthetical functions and understanding the interaction between the text and the miniature is essential in order to get a full understanding of the manuscript. But, how do you get beyond a subjective appreciation as a novice when describing a miniature? Anne van Oosterwijk demonstrates how a trained art historian approaches a work of art and describes it in a scientific manner.

Anne van Oosterwijk is art historian (University of Groningen and Free University Amsterdam) and since 2020 director of Collection at Musea Brugge. In 2007 she started at the Groeningemuseum working on several research and exhibitions projects among which, Charles the Bold, Splendour in Burgundy (2009), Van Eyck to Dürer (2010), and Face to Face with Death. Hugo van der Goes, old masters and new interpretations (autumn 2022). She curated the exhibition Pieter Pourbus and the Forgotten Masters and published the accompanying catalogue in 2017.

Anne’s research and publications focus on the 16th century Bruges painting school, with specific interest in the painter families of Blondeel-Pourbus and the Claeissens and stained glass windows. Her research focusses on the production process and the role of the patron within.

2/12/22 – 5pm CET:Heraldry: Identifying and describing a coat of arms

– Hanno Wijsman (IRHT)

The coats of arms of Raphael de Mercatillis of the Dune Abbey are well documented and easy recognizable. But what is the meaning of the different colours and symbols? What do you do when you stumble upon a lesser known coat of arms? Heraldry has spooked many with its specific vocabulary and hermetic literature. Hanno Wijsman delivers us of our fears and guides us through the different steps to be able to identify and describe a coat of arms.

Hanno Wijsman is a doctor in Medieval History (Leiden University). He is a researcher at the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes in Paris and is responsible for the heraldic documentation. He specialises in Medieval manuscripts, their provenance and library history. He is coordinator of the Bibale database. He published many works relating to noble book ownership and illuminated manuscripts in the late middle ages in the Netherlands and France, specifically focussing on the Burgundian court. He described many medieval manuscripts for collection- and exhibition catalogues. In 2010 he published the monograph Luxury Bound. The Production of Illustrated Manuscripts and Princely and Noble Book Ownership in the Burgundian Netherlands.

9/12/22 – 4pm CET: “Outline of the religious landscape in Medieval Flanders based on the Mmmonk-manuscripts”

– Steven Vanderputten (History Professor – UGent)

To be able to understand a Medieval book you have to understand the context in which it was created and used. For the Mmmonk manuscripts this means we have to focus on the religious landscape, but who can make sense of the tangle of religious institutes and bodies in Medieval Flanders? Steven Vanderputten will enlighten us in this session. He will guide us, using reference points in the Mmmonk manuscripts, across the most important phases and developments of the religious landscape, tackling terminological confusion about crucial terms such as order, secular/regular ‘kapittel’, priory, abbey/monastery, and novice/monk.

Steven Vanderputten is a professor at Ghent University. As a historian he specialises in the study of the society and culture in medieval and early modern West, with a special focus on the history of religious communities. He is the author of several leading monographs, Monastic Reform as Process: Realities and Representations in Medieval Flanders, 900-1100 (Cornell University Press, 2013), Reform, conflict and the shaping of corporate identities. Collected studies on Benedictine monasticism, 1050-1150 (LIT Verlag, 2013), Dark Age Nunneries. The Ambiguous Identity of Female Monasticism, 800-1050 (Cornell University Press, 2018), Medieval Monasticisms. Forms and Experiences of the Monastic Life in the Medieval West (De Gruyter, 2020), and Dismantling the Medieval: Early Modern Perceptions of a Female Convent’s Past (Brepols, 2021).

9/12/22 – 5pm CET:Time calculation: Translating medieval time indications to modern notations

– Mark Vermeer (Mmmonk project officer, KU Leuven)

Medieval time indications do not equate to our current calendar system. A date can be referenced with a year but also, for example, with a 15-year long tax-cycle, the position of the moon, a ruling period of a king or a clerical celebration. Why do historici sometimes write “new style” after a year? Mark Vermeer offers us insight into some of the most important systems and show us around some of the most important reference works and websites that enable us to translate medieval time indications to modern notations.

Mark Vermeer earned a PhD in 2020 for a thesis on administrative literacy in the late medieval Northern Brabantine countryside. His research focuses primarily on diplomatic, palaeography, and codicology. He has worked on the medieval manuscripts kept at the Public Library Bruges for the projects Mmmonk and The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages (Europeana) and is currently employed as a postdoc at the Faculty of Law of the KU Leuven.

16/12/22 – 4pm CET: Intro IIIF in education, research and communication

– Sofie Veramme (Mmmonk project officer)

The introduction of the International Image Interoperability Framework has simplified the methods of managing and sharing of digital images and improves durability and efficiency. Sofie Veramme straightforwardly explains the advantages of IIIF in context of education, research, communication, public relations and recreation. This session is for those people who don’t speak IT but want to be able to utilize the amazing digitized collection.

Sofie Veramme is digital innovator at Bruges Public Library and works on the project Mmmonk Medieval Monastic Manuscripts – Open, Network, Knowledge. She holds a Masters in History (Ghent University) and a postgraduate degree in Information and Library Sciences (Antwerp University). She is specialised in digital heritage projects and focuses mainly on user experience, linked data and IIIF-innovation.

16/12/22 – 5pm CET: Book bindings ca. 1000-1600: references for the dating of a book binding

– Astrid Beckers (Atelier Libri)

The study of bookbindings is often excluded from most history or art courses. It is often considered the exclusive domain of conservation specialists. The binding is, however, an integral and meaningful part of the history of the book. Astrid Beckers will take us on a deep dive in different sewing structures, boards and types of covering material that are typical for medieval books. She will also provide some reference points to make you able to situate these bookbinding’s in time and space.

Astrid Beckers is a medievalist and codicologist. After her studies in Medieval Literature at the Radboud Universiteit, she specialized in medieval bookbinding. She has a preference for the simple parchment bindings, the various reading aids and binders waste. Her research is both observation and practice; she likes to look at bookbindings, but in her own bookbinding workshop she also makes replicas to gain even more insight into the binding. She is a board member of the Belgisch-Nederlands Boekbandengenootschap and participates in the Project ‘Kneep&Binding 2’ to extend this well-known manual.